Help with a huge decision....
So if you've followed my posts at all, you'll know I just rescued an OTTB mare 2 months ago. I love her personality, and I think she is one of the most beautiful horses I have ever seen. She has LOTS of potential, I just can't seem to access it in her. When I first adopted her, I was excited about getting to ride consistently again. Since then I have had a harder and harder time of trying to motivate myself to ride her. It's always a battle with us. I started taking lessons with a local hunter trainer, and at first we did really well. Fast forward to the last few weeks and riding her seems to be getting harder, not easier. I know full well that it is probably my brain that is causing all of our issues, but I just can't seem to get past them. At our last lesson I couldn't even get her to trot without sticking her head in the air and hollowing out. My best friend got on her and was able to ride her around wtc and had no issues at all. As much as I LOVE her, I HATE riding her. My friends have to force me to get on.
Now I am fostering a gelding from the same rescue. He has feet issues, and rainrot. I finally was able to ride him yesterday and ... Wow. I havent had that much fun riding in probably a year. He was relaxed, polite, lazy and willing all at the same time. I don't know what to do. The rescue has a money back guarantee with an exchange policy. No questions asked I can bring Crystal back and adopt another one, but I am terrified that I am gonna run into the same issue with the next horse. Should I stick it out with Crystal even though it is making me hate riding, or should I tell the rescue what is going on and let them put her back up for adoption? I was ready to give her back a month ago when she started chewing my barn down, but I managed to get her to stop and have had her a whole month since then. It isn't like I haven't tried..
If I do give her back, should I just keep fostering horses until I find the right one or take a chance on another one?
If I don't, what could I do to make riding her more enjoyable? She is very sensitive to emotions. I'm bipolar and when I'm not depressed, I get extremely hyper and it seems like I can only ride her when I am sad or feeling depressed.
I just don't know what to do.
An OTTB is going to have different training needs than a "regular" horse - as you've discovered! Try setting smaller goals for her and go day by day. Don't be afraid to put off today's goal for tomorrow if something else comes up. For example if you want to try working on her trot but she decides to shuffle around everytime she passes the gate, make the goal for the day to walk nicely around the ring instead. When she gets excited, channel her energy forward. Drive her forward, go in circles, change direction, ask for a bend, ask for her to reach for the bridle. When she sticks her head in the air like a giraffe, do circles. Take the joy she feeds off you and translate it into driving forward. Focus less on the bigger results and more on the smaller ones.
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Your bipolar disorder is probably contributing to some of your riding issues, esp if you are saying you can only ride your mare when you are depressed, i.e., calm. Are you on medication to level out your mood? I would address that issue first. Almost all horses are sensitive to mood & I would expect you might have the same problems with another horse, to a greater/lesser degree, over a period of time
Absolutely NOTHING wrong with realizing you don't mesh with this horse. It does happen.
Two months isn't very long. I've had a hard time getting it together with my boy, and I've considered giving up more than once. We have lessons that just suck. Then we have a lesson like yesterday's, when one concept clicks and progress is made. Riding is hard work. It won't always be fun. I don't think you're giving this enough time.
I completely agree witht his statement. Personal experience.
I just had to sell my little mare whom I loved to death because we didn't mesh well. She fought me tooth and nail about doing something but when a guy would ask her to do the same thing she'd turn to butter and do whatever he asked. Turns out she liked men better than women. And I sold her to a really nice guy who will be able to bring her to her true potential.
Realizing it sucked and when I made the decision to sell her I cried for hours but I know she is where she is happy. She wasn't happy with me and if I really loved her I would have to give her up so she could be. She's the first horse I never clicked with and I felt like a terrible horse mommy but after seeing that she did the same things with me with other women it just showed she didn't like women in general not just me which made me feel better.
So don't feel bad if you're not clicking with her just yet. Give her some time ottbs seem to need more "tending to emotions" than a "regular" horse does IME
You've had the horse 2 MONTHS. If you'd had her 2 years and still not clicked with her I'd say to move her along to someone else, but you haven't even given her a fair shake.
I've had my TB 3 years. We're just now getting to the point of being a team under saddle.
Horses pick up on your emotional state very easily. If you're hyper without a reason, they're going to be looking for one. After all, if the human is whacked out, there must be some reason to be afraid.
I understand it's only been a short time, but if I don't want to ride her then what is the point? I can't afford to fight with her for years before I start to enjoy her. I did that with my 22 year old. I am seriously at the point where I would rather just feed and take care of them, than ride. But I love riding, I just can't stand it on her.
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What are you going to do, keep buying and selling horses, hoping for a miracle? The issues are with YOU, not the horses. Until you learn to control your emotions and realize that riding is hard work and there are no magic fixes, no horse is going to suit you.
You want that fantasy of immediately clicking, bonding, and riding off into the sunset together without any real work. It's not like that, even with heart horses. They ALL take blood, sweat, tears and time.
Sort of sounds like you made your decision.
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